Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Design Challenge, Week 1 Results

Week 1 challenge was to design a quilt representing the first sound I heard when I woke up that morning and, for me, that was a train whistle.  Remember, the challenge was to try to capture something about the sound, not the object making the sound.

First step was my sketchbook, which normally resides on my bedside table so when I'm unable to sleep I can think about design ideas and sketch them without getting out of bed.  (Admittedly, some of the designs, when I look at them the next morning, look as if I were having a nightmare when I sketched them!)

When I think of sound I think of a wave, or perhaps the Doppler Effect.  It might be sin wave-like, but after years of doing podcasts with Audacity I'm accustomed to those visualizations of sound patterns.  They seemed a little spiky for the lonely, mournful train whistle in the distance so I decided to represent them with narrow bars.  It did not escape my notice that they would also be vastly easier to piece, should I actually make a quilt.  (The physics of it all is not even close to correct, I'm sure.  Sorry, Mike!)   Here are the preliminary sketches in my sketchbook.

 I like one or two better than others, and those I decided to play with in Word.  Yep, Word.  I have Illustrator and I use it for some of my pattern diagrams, and I have Electric Quilt which I use for some types of designs, but since I compose my patterns primarily in Word I have become fairly proficient in using it for diagrams and "sketches" such as these.

Here's the first try at a design.  I like it, especially the ebb and flow of the "sound" and the introduction of a second whistle as the sound of the first is fading.  I played around with wider bars but I like these narrower ones better.   I also like the choice of doing bars because they are a hint of railroad tracks, which relates back to the source of the sound.

I wanted to try some other options, re-arranging and re-spacing the bars.  I liked them closer together, rather than spaced far apart but what if they were grouped, with each group starting on a new whistle?

Not horrible but still not what I was looking for.   So, what would it would be like if they were close together at the beginning of the whistle--stronger, louder--and then further apart as the sound faded?  I tried it first in groups, with each new whistle starting close together.

It was OK and with some more rearranging it might have been better,  but I still liked the first design better.  Then I tried it with increasing the spacing from the beginning to the end.  I was running out of room, even after increasing the width of the design and it wasn't my favorite, so I didn't finish with the spacing.  This was enough to tell me that I didn't like it as well as any of the previous designs.

The other option was some fading on the color or shading of the bars.  I briefly visited the idea of color in the bars,  maybe a rainbow effect, but since I heard the train in the pre-dawn hour it seemed more appropriate to stay with black and gray tones.    So, I shaded from black to lighter grays, again starting back at black when a new whistle blew.

In the end, that is the one I like most.  (And who knows?  I might actually make it one day!)  What do YOU think? Which do you like most?


  1. I love it--my mind does not think like that so i guess I am in awe. That would be a very modern looking quilt. It was a toss up between the first and last illustration.

  2. I like those two, also. It's fun to just juggle the pieces around, and see what the same shapes can look like. I might make the quilt, perhaps in a small-ish size, to see how it looks in fabric, rather than on paper (or computer screen). :-)

  3. It looks like music to me... love it

  4. Oh, I see what you mean--now that you say it, it does look like music, too! To a friend of mine, who loves trains, the train whistle would probably be "music to her ears."